House of Cards, Netflix’s pioneering original hit series, is collapsing. The streaming platform announced yesterday that next year’s sixth season will be its last.
Although Netflix broke the news just as outrage over series-star Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct hit a fever pitch, some reports say the decision had been made months ago. It would be unsurprising if so. (Note: since this story published, Netflix has suspended production on the sixth season.) The once-sparkling series has been in a creative decline for years now, despite being nominated for a total of 53 Emmys. The most recent season roused little notice at all. (Once a show commits to making the president (Spacey) an actual murderer, it becomes ever-harder to heighten the stakes for the Murderer in Chief.) Die-hard Cards fans shouldn’t mourn too hard, though: Netflix is reportedly developing a spinoff. The only problem is that the streaming network has not yet landed on a definitive premise.
Fast Company would like to help. In addition to our expertise in business and technology, FC is also known for consulting on Hollywood pitch meetings. (Do not fact-check this detail. It may not hold up to scrutiny.) As such, we have come up with five potential spinoffs and rated their potential. Murder President may be a tough act to follow, but here are some hot contenders.
Netflix has already brought on Forrest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth to take a crack at a show centering on loyal hatchet man Doug Stamper. Michael Kelly’s sly, creepy performance has been a perennial highlight of the series.
Odds it will happen: 9/10. Considering that the character is no longer White House Chief of Staff but is in a tricky legal position, he’d be easy to write off into his own sordid adventures. Also, the three-time Emmy-nominated Kelly could be eager to keep the role going longer.
Remy and Jackie: Together at Last
Mahershala Ali’s (mostly) unscrupulous lobbyist, Remy Danton, once carried on an affair with then-House Majority Whip Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker). Although the pair soon separated, and their fortunes fluctuated, both remained interesting characters as they exited the show. When we last left Sharp, she had hastily married another man while running a failed presidential bid, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t get divorced and take up again with Danton for the next chapter of his life.
Odds it will happen: 1/10. The minute Ali left the show, he won an Oscar for his incandescent performance in Moonlight. Unless everything falls apart for him somehow, he’s not coming back to the world of this show.
Freddy’s BBQ Joint Reborn
Over the first couple seasons, Frank Underwood (Spacey) had a friendly relationship with Freddy Hayes (Reg E. Cathey) the proprietor of a local rib restaurant that drastically altered Hayes’s life. He was initially set to franchise his restaurant and parachute into a ton of cash, and then became a political pawn and lost everything. Eventually, he ended up working as Underwood’s official White House chef, but he grew just as tired of the villainous POTUS as everyone watching at home. His exit from the show left him alive, however, and possibly able to rebuild his restaurant in a new politician-free location.
Odds it will happen: 4/10. A show about Freddy would provide a ground-level view of Washington, opening the door for many different kinds of characters to intersect. However, after four seasons of fitting this character in wherever possible, viewers may have already had their fill.
Some members of the current administration may be fans of House of Cards purely because of the high death count for members of the media. Okay, the death count is actually “two,” but also Tom Hammerschmidt (Bob McGiver) got beaten up once. The DC media landscape has proven fertile grounds for storylines throughout the run of the show. Aside from Hammerschmidt the dogged crusader, there’s cunning White House correspondent Kate Baldwin (Kim Dickens) and the sidelined cynic Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer.) Either character might be enough to carry a spinoff, but having all three represent different approaches might be more interesting.
Odds it will happen: 7/10. While there might be interest in this world, and Zimmer is already a TV star in her own right, it would be difficult to have a show set in the world of DC media that doesn’t have much to do with the presidency, and is thus different enough from House of Cards. If the writers on the show were as determined to succeed as these characters are, though, they’d find a way.
Russian House of Cards
When the House of Cards writers created the President of Russia Viktor Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen), they likely had no idea how relevant the character would be. The Putin surrogate has since achieved memehood with some uncanny similarities to real-life events. Perhaps the most clever way for a spinoff to proceed would be to show the events of the 2016 election from the point of view of our meddlesome foreign adversaries.
Odds it will happen: 5/10. This one is probably dependent on how Robert Mueller’s investigation shakes out, so don’t count on it.